Tax deductions for things like child care and home mortgage interest get a lot of attention in the press, and for people with houses and children, these can represent a big chunk of their itemized deductions. But that doesn’t mean single people are left out when it comes to tax deductions. Many other categories of deductions apply to you, and you should take advantage of them to reduce your tax bill.
If you give money to charity, you can probably take a tax deduction for that. You can also deduct the value of items you donate, and expenses, such as mileage, that you incur as part of volunteer work for a charity. To qualify, the charity must be approved by the IRS. The IRS’ Select Check website allows you to input the name and location of a charity to find out if it meets qualifications for tax-deductible contributions. You’ll need a receipt for all non-cash contributions you make, and a cancelled check or acknowledgement from the charity for cash contributions.
If a tornado ripped through town and destroyed your belongings and insurance didn’t cover the loss, if your car was stolen and you had no insurance, or if someone raided your bank accounts and you couldn’t get the money back, the IRS allows you to deduct your loss from your taxes. You may deduct the fair market value of the item you lost, minus any salvage value and any reimbursement you received from insurance.
You can deduct medical and dental expenses that weren’t covered by insurance. However, you can only deduct the amount of these expenses that exceeded 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (rising to 10 percent in 2013). Add up the cost of those unreimbursed doctor bills and prescriptions, dental work, eyeglasses, mileage to and from doctor’s appointments, and special equipment you purchased to accommodate a disability. This includes expenses you paid for any dependents, such as your elderly parents, if you provide the majority of their support and they qualify as your dependents.
If you had to buy uniforms for your job, or you took courses to help you advance in your profession, or if you rented a safe deposit boxes to store investment paperwork or paid a financial adviser to help you with estate planning, these expenses fall under the category of miscellaneous expenses. You can deduct these expenses that add up to more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.